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Many House of Delegates Seats Unopposed

Oct. 25, 2013

Of the 100 House of Delegates seats up for grabs this election, only about 40-45 of those seats have two major party candidates running. Only about half of those races are competitive.

The lack of competition is linked to the ways maps are redrawn after each census.

"The maps are generally drawn to draw a lot of safe seats for both sides and since the Republicans drew the House of Delegates map, it's really designed to protect their incumbents and their seats," said Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.

Kondik says the current system creates a lack of competition because potential candidates don't want to run.

"If you're a delegate holding a really safe seat, nobody really wants to run against you from the other party because they don't really have a good chance of winning," Kondik said.

57th District Delegate David Toscano, who is running unopposed this election, says creating safe districts for incumbents is not the best way to run an election.

"With the redistricting the republicans did several years ago, they created a lot of safe districts," Delegate Toscano said. "That's not the way to run an operation, you need competition in and election."

Now some are calling for changes to they way the district maps are drawn. The Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce announced its support for an amendment to the Virginia Constitution that would establish a non-partisan way to fix representative districts and take politics out of the way legislative maps are drawn. Delegate Toscano supports the proposed change.

"In that way the constituents will be able to chose their representatives, rather than the representative chose their constituents," said Toscano.

So how often do the leaders we send to Richmond actually get challenged by the other party? More often than not, they don't.

This is Delegate Toscano's fifth election. He has only been challenged once by a Republican.

After this year, Delegate Rob Bell will have won seven elections to his seat. He’s faced a Democrat three of those times.

And Delegate Steve Landes, first elected back in 1995, has faced a Democrat two times out of his ten elections.

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